By Sean Bassinger
The Tri-Cities ended the year with the largest labor force ever and the fastest-growing job market in the state.
Kennewick, Richland and Pasco added more than 3,800 jobs in December, or 3.6 percent growth over the same month the previous year.
The next fastest growth rates in the state include Wenatchee at 3.1 percent, followed by Spokane and Seattle at 2.8 percent.
The state added 82,300 jobs for an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent, according to the Employment Security Department.
“There was very rapid growth for employment in the Tri-Cities during that time,” said Ajsa Suljic, the state’s regional economist for the Tri-Cities.
Some 134,500 civilian workers made up the Tri-Cities’ labor force market in 2016, with an average annual growth rate of 3 percent, when compared to the 2015 annual average.
“This is the highest labor force that we have had ever,” Suljic said.
Manufacturing and construction were amoung the fastest-growing industries last year, with more than 1,100 jobs added, or nearly 15 percent.
One of the region’s biggest projects is the construction of the AutoZone distribution center on Capitol Avenue, just north of the King City Truck Stop in Pasco. The $38.9 million building will add more than 200 jobs to the area.